Louis Gossett, Jr.

Actor


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his two-hour interview, Louis Gossett, Jr. talks about his early life, and his early interest in sports and performing. He recalls taking classes at the Actors Studio, and early television roles on The Nurses and East Side/West Side. He recalls appearing both on stage and in the feature film version of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” and along side James Garner in “Skin Game.” He details playing the role of “Fiddler” in the groundbreaking miniseries Roots, and speaks of finding the character, and improvising a line in a key scene, which was kept in with the permission of Alex Haley. Gossett discusses the impact of Roots, and what it was like to win the Emmy Award for his work on the series. He chronicles his Oscar-winning role in “An Office and a Gentleman,” and other roles in features like “The Cuban” and “Enemy Mine.” He recalls playing “Anwar al-Sadat” in the critically acclaimed Sadat, and opines about race relations in America. Jenni Matz conducted the interview in a joint venture with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on July 18, 2018 in Malibu, CA.

"'Roots' was a phenomenon African-American actors. Finally they’re telling the truth on national television, thank God. African-Americans already kinda knew the story. We'd talked about it in our kitchens and our bathrooms and our living rooms, but now it was on national television. The entire world stopped what they were doing to finally hear this story."

Highlights
Louis Gossett, Jr. on appearing with Sidney Poitier in the feature film adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun"
03:19
Louis Gossett, Jr. on filming the "my name is Toby" scene in Roots, and on using the time "there's gonna be another day" (which he improvised) with Alex Haley's permission
03:07
Louis Gossett, Jr. on the decision to air Roots on consecutive nights, and on the phenomenon the show became
01:41
Louis Gossett, Jr. on playing "Anwar al-Sadat" in Sadat
05:49
Louis Gossett, Jr. on playing "Sgt. Emil Foley" in "An Officer and a Gentleman," directed by Taylor Hackford and starring Richard Gere
03:43
Louis Gossett, Jr. on how he would like to be remembered
00:22
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood, and his best friend growing up, Stanley Ralph Ross; on his early interest in sports and in performing; on being cast in the Broadway show "Take a Giant Step" at age 17
07:51
On what he learned from studying at the Actors Studio; on early television appearances on shows like The Nurses and East Side/West Side; on making the transition from stage to television and features; on appearing with Sidney Poitier in the feature film adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun," and on Norman Lear
15:40
On being cast as "Fiddler" in Roots, and on his initial disappointment with the role; on doing research to play "Fiddler" in Roots, and why the character was a breakthrough for him in terms of his acting process; on filming the "my name is Toby" scene in Roots, and on using the lime "there's gonna be another day" (which he improvised) with Alex Haley's permission
10:21
On the decision to air Roots on consecutive nights, and on the phenomenon the show became; on winning an Emmy Award for his role as "Fiddler" in Roots; on the legacy of Roots
05:40

Chapter 2

On playing "Dr. MacArthur St. Clair" on The Lazarus Syndrome; on playing "Sgt. Emil Foley" in "An Officer and a Gentleman," directed by Taylor Hackford and starring Richard Gere; on the role of the actor in society, and how the arts can help or harm
10:06
On being the second black actor to win an Oscar, and on what it meant to his career; on the value of storytelling; on playing "Anwar al-Sadat" in Sadat
11:06
On appearing in the feature films "The Cuban" and "Enemy Mine" with Dennis Quaid; on overcoming creative differences with other actors and on the importance of doing research on characters; on the then-current state of race relations in America
15:12
On what he loves about acting; on his then-future plans, what he looks for in a role, and on his production company; on the many mentors in his life
11:03
On how the industry has changed since he started; on career achievements and regrets; on how he would like to be remembered
04:30
Shows

Companions in Nightmare

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Louis Gossett, Jr. on appearing in the television movie Companions in Nightmare, and on facing discrimination during filming and coming to terms with racism in the industry
05:00

East Side/West Side

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Louis Gossett, Jr. on early television appearances on shows like The Nurses and East Side/West Side
02:46

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Louis Gossett, Jr. on winning an Emmy Award for his role as "Fiddler" in Roots
00:47

Lazarus Syndrome, The

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Louis Gossett, Jr. on playing "Dr. MacArthur St. Clair" on The Lazarus Syndrome
01:44

Nurses, The

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Louis Gossett, Jr. on early television appearances on shows like The Nurses and East Side/West Side
02:46

Roots

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Louis Gossett, Jr. on being cast as "Fiddler" in Roots, and on his initial disappointment with the role
03:08
Louis Gossett, Jr. on doing research to play "Fiddler" in Roots, and why the character was a breakthrough for him in terms of his acting process
04:06
Louis Gossett, Jr. on filming the "my name is Toby" scene in Roots, and on using the line "there's gonna be another day" (which he improvised) with Alex Haley's permission
03:07
Louis Gossett, Jr. on the decision to air Roots on consecutive nights, and on the phenomenon the show became
01:39
Louis Gossett, Jr. on winning an Emmy Award for his role as "Fiddler" in Roots
00:47
Louis Gossett, Jr. on the legacy of Roots
03:13

Sadat

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Louis Gossett, Jr. on playing "Anwar al-Sadat" in Sadat
05:49
Topics

Characters & Catchphrases

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Louis Gossett, Jr. on playing "Fiddler" on Roots,
07:14

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Louis Gossett, Jr. on the many mentors in his life
04:52

Diversity in Television

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Louis Gossett, Jr. on appearing with James Garner in the feature film "Skin Game," and on appearing in socially-conscious projects
02:07
Louis Gossett, Jr. on the impact producer Norman Lear had on opportunities for African-American actors in television
00:24
Louis Gossett, Jr. on doing research to play "Fiddler" in Roots, and why the character was a breakthrough for him in terms of his acting process
04:06
Louis Gossett, Jr. on filming the "my name is Toby" scene in Roots, and on using the line "there's gonna be another day" (which he improvised) with Alex Haley's permission
03:06
Louis Gossett, Jr. on the legacy of Roots
03:12
Louis Gossett, Jr. on the role of the actor in society, and how the arts can help or harm
04:37
Louis Gossett, Jr. on being the second black actor to win an Oscar, and on what it meant to his career
04:18
Louis Gossett, Jr. on how things have changed for African-American actors since he started
01:17

Emmy Awards

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Louis Gossett, Jr. on winning an Emmy Award for his role as "Fiddler" in Roots
00:47

Historic Events and Social Change

View Topic
Louis Gossett, Jr. on appearing with James Garner in the feature film "Skin Game," and on appearing in socially-conscious projects
02:07
Louis Gossett, Jr. on the impact producer Norman Lear had on opportunities for African-American actors in television
00:24
Louis Gossett, Jr. on doing research to play "Fiddler" in Roots, and why the character was a breakthrough for him in terms of his acting process
04:06
Louis Gossett, Jr. on filming the "my name is Toby" scene in Roots, and on using the line "there's gonna be another day" (which he improvised) with Alex Haley's permission
03:06
Louis Gossett, Jr. on the legacy of Roots
03:12
Louis Gossett, Jr. on the role of the actor in society, and how the arts can help or harm
04:37
Louis Gossett, Jr. on being the second black actor to win an Oscar, and on what it meant to his career
04:18
Louis Gossett, Jr. on how things have changed for African-American actors since he started
01:17

Minorities

View Topic
Louis Gossett, Jr. on appearing with James Garner in the feature film "Skin Game," and on appearing in socially-conscious projects
02:07
Louis Gossett, Jr. on the impact producer Norman Lear had on opportunities for African-American actors in television
00:24
Louis Gossett, Jr. on doing research to play "Fiddler" in Roots, and why the character was a breakthrough for him in terms of his acting process
04:06
Louis Gossett, Jr. on filming the "my name is Toby" scene in Roots, and on using the line "there's gonna be another day" (which he improvised) with Alex Haley's permission
03:06
Louis Gossett, Jr. on the legacy of Roots
03:12
Louis Gossett, Jr. on the role of the actor in society, and how the arts can help or harm
04:37
Louis Gossett, Jr. on being the second black actor to win an Oscar, and on what it meant to his career
04:18
Louis Gossett, Jr. on how things have changed for African-American actors since he started
01:17

Pivotal Career Moments

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Louis Gossett, Jr. on the many mentors in his life
04:52

Pop Culture

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Louis Gossett, Jr. on playing "Fiddler" in Roots
07:14

Television Industry

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Louis Gossett, Jr. on how the industry has changed since he started
01:07
Professions

Actor

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Louis Gossett, Jr. on making the transition from stage to television and features
00:45
Louis Gossett, Jr. on doing research to play "Fiddler" in Roots, and why the character was a breakthrough for him in terms of his acting process
04:06
Louis Gossett, Jr. on overcoming creative differences with other actors and on the importance of doing research on characters
04:03
Louis Gossett, Jr. on what he loves about acting
02:57

Performers

View Profession
Louis Gossett, Jr. on making the transition from stage to television and features
00:45
Louis Gossett, Jr. on doing research to play "Fiddler" in Roots, and why the character was a breakthrough for him in terms of his acting process
04:06
Louis Gossett, Jr. on overcoming creative differences with other actors and on the importance of doing research on characters
04:03
Louis Gossett, Jr. on what he loves about acting
02:57
Genres

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

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Louis Gossett, Jr. on early television appearances on shows like The Nurses and East Side/West Side
02:46

Medical Dramas

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Louis Gossett, Jr. on early television appearances on shows like The Nurses and East Side/West Side
02:46

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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Louis Gossett, Jr. on being cast as "Fiddler" in Roots, and on his initial disappointment with the role
16:03
Louis Gossett, Jr. on playing "Dr. MacArthur St. Clair" on The Lazarus Syndrome
01:44
Louis Gossett, Jr. on playing "Anwar al-Sadat" in Sadat
05:49
People

LeVar Burton

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Louis Gossett, Jr. on filming the "my name is Toby" scene (with LeVar Burton and Vic Morrow) in Roots, and on using the line "there's gonna be another day" (which he improvised) with Alex Haley's permission
03:06

James Garner

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Louis Gossett, Jr. on appearing with James Garner in the feature film "Skin Game," and on appearing in socially-conscious projects
02:07

Alex Haley

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Louis Gossett, Jr. on filming the "my name is Toby" scene in Roots, and on using the line "there's gonna be another day" (which he improvised) with Alex Haley's permission
03:06

Norman Lear

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Louis Gossett, Jr. on the impact producer Norman Lear had on opportunities for African-American actors in television
00:24

Marilyn Monroe

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Louis Gossett, Jr. on an encounter with Marilyn Monroe at the Actors Studio
01:18

Vic Morrow

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Louis Gossett, Jr. on filming the "my name is Toby" scene (with LeVar Burton and Vic Morrow) in Roots, and on using the line "there's gonna be another day" (which he improvised) with Alex Haley's permission
03:07

Sidney Poitier

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Louis Gossett, Jr. on appearing with Sidney Poitier in the feature film adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun"
08:19

Dennis Quaid

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Louis Gossett, Jr. on appearing in the feature films "The Cuban" and "Enemy Mine" with Dennis Quaid
03:46

Stanley Ralph Ross

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Louis Gossett, Jr. on his childhood, and his best friend growing up, Stanley Ralph Ross
02:13

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